Newbury Weekly News: Report on EU voting and background information on Lib Dem Candidate #3.

Report, above, from the Newbury Weekly News. This includes a ittle background on me and what my main aims for this election are, which will not come as a surprise.

It also includes a handy guide to the EU voting system and, rather gloriously, a profile of Elizabeth O’Keefe, Cllr for Newbury Central, who takes over the Newbury Mayorship this coming weekend.

Change UK’s lead Scottish candidate endorses Lib Dems as party of Remain

“I have decided to end my candidacy for Change UK effective immediately. I am now calling for those in favour of remaining in the European Union, including all supporters of Change UK in Scotland, to do what is best for our collective voice in Europe and to support the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the upcoming European election.”

Lead Change UK candidate for Scotland, Cllr David Macdonald, said: 

“It has been an honour to be the lead candidate for Change UK for election to the European Parliament for the Scotland electoral region. This new party is genuinely a force for good in British politics and all of their supporters, candidates and elected members have played an integral part in trying to reshape the way in which politics is done in this country for the better. For my involvement within that movement I will be forever grateful. 

“After a great deal of reflection on the political landscape we are facing in Scotland at present, I have come to the point where I have realised that I must do what is best for the future of this country before anything else. If things continue as they are,  the remain vote will split in Scotland and put at risk the representation that supporters of remaining in the European Union so collectively desire. 

“For that reason I have decided to end my candidacy for Change UK effective immediately. I am now calling for those in favour of remaining in the European Union, including all supporters of Change UK in Scotland, to do what is best for our collective voice in Europe and to support the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the upcoming European election to better ensure that they gain representation and secure a seat in these European elections.   

“Over the past three weeks I have campaigned passionately for a new type of politics. A politics that is based on mutual respect, common understanding and shared values. I believe the action that I am taking today is consistent with those ideals.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie MSP added:

“This will have been a difficult decision for David as he clearly admires those in Change UK as do I.  David has recognised the emerging political landscape and rightly felt he had to act to unite the remain vote behind the Liberal Democrats.

“I invite each and every person across Scotland who wants to stop Brexit, no matter where their political loyalties have lain before, to lend their vote to the Liberal Democrats and fight for a positive future inside the EU.

“Brexit will cause immeasurable harm to every corner of Britain. We can’t let that happen. 

“If pro-Europeans unite and back the Liberal Democrats we can end the chaos and uncertainty.

“Voters have the opportunity to put a stop to the chaos on May 23rdby voting Liberal Democrat and demanding to stop Brexit.

“I want to thank David for taking this important step.”

Environment: Lib Dem form

If you want strong representation on environmental and other green issues in Europe, please read the post below. Where the environment is concerned, we have form:

While in government Liberal Democrats doubled renewable energy generation in the UK and planted 1 million trees. We extended the coastal path and set up the zero energy homes initiative. 

Read on for more information about the amazing work done by Ed Davey and the team on renewable energy and the environment, 2010 – 2012:

Renewable Energy and Environmental Action

Under Ed Davey’s determined stewardship as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, 2012 – 2015, somewhat to the consternation of conservatives such as Owen Paterson and George Osborne, the UK saw a massive investment in renewables and general toughening of environmentally protective policies.

Key facts:

  • Electricity generation from renewable sources doubled.
  • Renewable energy supplied 15% of the UK’s electricity, when the Liberal Democrats left government in 2015.
  • The average annual investment in renewables more than doubled 2012 – 2015.    
  • 2013, alone, saw £8bn investment in renewables.
  • Overall, a record, £37bn was secured for investment renewable-sourced electricity.
  • Solar PV investment 2011 – 2013 = £6.4 billion. Rather wonderfully, the cost of solar installation halved, 2010 – 2015.
  • Biomass and Bioenergy 2010 – 2013 = £6.3bn investment.
  • We supported carbon capture and storage research to the tune of £1bn – not bad for research funding.  
  • We established the world’s first Green Investment Bank
  • The Liberal Democrats led Europe to agree a new more ambitious EU-wide climate change target
  • We planted more than 1 million trees.
  • We halted Conservative plans to scrap Natural England and give up on the England Coast Path.
  • We secured safe funding for the coastal project.

European Elections 2019

If you are a Green supporter, in the European Elections 2019 please lend the Liberal Democrats your vote.

I hate to ask this, but our track record shows how we care about the environment. We are more likely to #StopBrexit and achieve change if we can focus the vote on one party.

Liberal Democrats quadruple seats on West Berkshire Council

In the local elections this week Liberal Democrats regained control of Newbury Town Council, Thatcham Town Council and quadrupled representation on West Berkshire Council from 4 to 16 seats.

Fantastic results for the team and for everyone who lives in this fantastic district.

Congratulations to the team who has worked hard, even when not elected, to make sure that the message got out. We can Demand Better.

Thank you to everyone who voted Lib Dem.

For full results in your area:
District Council Results 2019:

Town and Parish Council results – Newbury and Thatcham:

And please stick with us – there is more fun to come on May 23rd. Now we work together to Stop Brexit.

Climate Emergency – the power of youth

Cable: Today’s events should give profile to our climate emergency

Responding to the visit of Nobel Prize nominated climate change activist Greta Thunberg to Parliament today, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

“Young people leaving their classrooms and lying down on the streets of London have given much needed profile to the climate emergency our planet is facing.
“As we welcome the hugely impressive Greta Thunberg to Parliament – a sixteen year old who has led a global movement – I am doing my small part by leading a debate this evening on the related issue of the damage plastics are doing to our natural environment. 
“I’ll be pressing Ministers to make data about the contribution of plastic production and use to global warming.
“The public is becoming more and more aware of the need to reduce waste as part of our efforts to be kinder to the environment, and I hope today’s events will help everyone to take notice.”

Brexit: Two-party system is being held hostage by their extremes – Christine Jardine

For the full text of this article please follow the link to The Scotsman:

This week Christine Jardine MP writes in The Scotsman about the black comedy of Westminster: Protestors supergluing themselves to the screen installed to protect MPs from … err… protestors; the ‘water’ leak that washed up against a little publicised tax debate on the seedy business whether HMRC should claim money back from people who took part in a tax scheme which HMRC itself said was legal at the time. You couldn’t make it up.

Jardine also writes, of course, about the real problem with Westminster: “a parliamentary system that is looking increasingly damaged by political parties held hostage by their extremes”


“I don’t think I am alone amongst MPs in feeling that the dominant emotions at Westminster are frustration and fear.

“Frustration that so many of us are agreed that we need to find a way forward out of this morass and then put it to the people, but are unable to overcome the trench warfare that has come to dominate our two-party system.

“Fear that if we cannot find a way to persuade those most entrenched to compromise soon, that the minority who would happily accept crashing out – and all that it might bring – will have their way.”

“And yet we rallied, pushed through that important Yvette Cooper Bill, and then found that the EU too was prepared to help avoid that worst-case scenario. Hope.

“Over this past weekend, those of us at the centre of the drama have been determined to continue the cross-party conversations that we hope will lead to compromise and wait while the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition do the same.

“But, with a parliamentary system that is looking increasingly damaged by political parties held hostage by their extremes and a country holding its breath for an outcome, we cannot afford to fail.”

“I pay my taxes to Mrs Merkel …” Brexit, Business and Berkshire.

Brexit, Business and Employment in Berkshire – 2017

Judith Bunting speaking in February 2017 at a cross party rally organised by West Berkshire Stronger Together EU.

Back in 2017, I was invited to speak at a cross party rally organised by West Berkshire Stronger Together EU.

My focus was the results of the survey of local businesses that we had just completed, asking whether the prospect of Brexit was already affecting their business and how they thought Brexit would affect them in the long run.

This matters because it affects employment in our area and also the quality of life for everyone. To paraphrase the owner of an engineering company who has moved from Greenham to Germany: I pay my taxes to Mrs Merkel, now.

“It is time to update our knowledge of the will of the people.”

A couple of excerpts, below, from Sarah Ludford’s speech in the Lords’ debate, this week, on the Cooper Letwin Bill, designed to avoid us leaving the EU without a deal.

Sarah Ludford: “There has been a serious impact on the economy. As a result of the Brexit vote, we have lost around 2.5% of GDP, even though we are still in the EU. We are down by around £600 million a week.

“As I was saying, there are already shortages of medicines, and that will get worse. The noble Lord, Lord Lilley, who is not with us now, suggested in a debate we had a couple of weeks ago that I was wrong to draw attention to the problem of people not getting essential medicines. These stories continue to appear, and they are very real. The NHS has not stockpiled everything because some medicines such as short-life isotopes cannot be stockpiled. It is therefore irresponsible to contemplate no deal. There would also be effects on our security and on Northern Ireland—the noble Lord, Lord Hain, has talked about the issues as regards the Northern Ireland border and possible direct rule.”

Sarah Ludford (contd): “I do not want to go on about a people’s vote, but the noble Lord, Lord Howard, referred to the will of the people. It is time to update our knowledge of the will of the people. Three years on, it is not reasonable or reliable to rely on what a different electorate said in 2016. We hope and expect that the Prime Minister will seek an extension, but she should use that extension to get an update of the verdict of the people.

Read the full speech, here, at Lib Dem Voice.

Boxford Masques – From stump to stage

A report, here, from last week’s Newbury Weekly News, on my contribution to this year’s very excellent Boxford Masques:

The performance runs from 26th – 31st July. Tickets are £9 and £12 and can be booked by the Watermill Theatre website:

The play is great fun, like Noel Coward with a pantomime atmosphere. At the same time, amid the musical and romantic comedy, Geraldine McCaughrean has woven a warm, approachable exploration of the rights of refugees. The stage is set at Welford Park. Do bring a picnic, or there is a barbeque on site as well as coffee, cake and beer tent.



School cuts – West Berkshire Council proposes charging schools who need help

Judith Bunting at Park House School, Newbury, during
the recent election campaign.
With Ian Millar, Head of Physics.

This week West Berkshire Council announced plans for financial “task forces” to be sent into the district’s struggling schools to help heads manage their budgets. They are also threatening to charge any school that requires ‘the task force intervention’.
Judith Bunting, Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats in Newbury, said: “This is another shockingly negative move from the Conservatives on West Berkshire Council. They present this issue as if our schools are failing, In reality, the actions of West Berkshire Council and the Conservative Government mean that many local schools have not only suffered significant cuts to their funding, but at the same time are being expected to provide more services around children’s mental health and other matters.”
Judith continued, “West Berkshire Council should be glad to help schools doing their best to keep up standards of education under such onslaught, not chastise them and then charge them for the privilege.”
This week, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran told national press about the hypocrisy surrounding Justine Greening’s announcement £1.3bn of additional funding for schools. In reality, she said, this ‘additional funding’ will come from “efficiencies” from within the education budget:
“This is a desperate attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Instead of providing the £4bn of extra funding promised in their manifesto, the Conservatives are recycling cash from the education budget. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Schools are still facing cuts to their budgets once inflation and increasing class sizes are taken into account.
“Children only get one go at education. We need to invest more in our schools to ensure that no child is left behind.”
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